Waah! I’m Not Getting Any Referrals!

By Jenifer Novak Landers

Networking can be a significant adventure of self-discovery. Joining a networking group, whether you anticipated it or not, is all about the words of M. Scott Peck, “Wherever You Go, There You Are.”

Your issues, your beliefs and all of your “stuff” will show up. This can be a challenge AND a glorious opportunity for success!

Networking, at it’s best, is a fabulous adventure in business development surrounded by priceless relationships and support. Networking, at it’s most challenging, is a bad karaoke song that sounds like endless whining. (Waah. .)

Inside of every networking organization, the issues surrounding REFERRALS are the biggest buzz of all. “Waah, no one understands what I do.” “Waah, I’m doing everything right and no one gives me referrals.” “Waah, it’s too hard to refer to me!” “Waah, I’m not getting anything out of this!”

Perhaps a small dose of self-inquiry is your game-changer?

Knowing that how you show up in “life” is how you show up in networking, you can begin to notice what deeper issues you have or what stories you are playing out in your life. You can notice if these are the same issues and stories you play out in networking. And best yet, you can make choices to do what serves you and get rid of what doesn’t.

I see a ratio that contributes directly to successful referrals which is this: The level at which you are able to expand is proportionate to the level at which you have more room to receive. This is the conversation that really matters. Are you stuck in resistance? What is in the way of getting the referrals you want? What do you need to let go of (beliefs or behaviors) in order to attract referrals?

In my various leadership roles over the past several years of networking groups, the conversations I’ve had with fellow networkers who are singing the “Waah” song inevitably sift down to this bottom line: HOW they are showing up and IF they are willing to do it differently.

There is a fable about a couple of dogs who hear of an amazing mansion at the top of a hill. A mansion where dreams come true, and abundance abounds. The first dog get’s jumping excited about it and runs up to check it out. This dog is eagerly anticipating and playing full out.

Turns out the mansion is a huge array of mirrors so when the dog enters he sees nothing but other dogs playing full out, wagging tales, excited to connect and anticipating abundance. Soon the other dog slogs up the hill, panting with resistance and criticism. He’s pretty sure the mansion is another waste of his time, won’t matter, might be interesting, but will certainly disappoint overall. He shows up and sees himself surrounded by less than desirable company. “Everyone” is a turn off. He walks out wondering why ANYONE would ever go there, or what delusion they are suffering to consider it in the first place. Hmmmm. He’s just not “getting” anything out of being there.

Consider the reflection of how you show up in your networking efforts. Which dog has your name on it’s tag?

Take the time to assess your outlook. Take notice of your energy and your expectations. Try stepping out of expectation and stepping into INTENTION. What if your intention for networking was “to participate in the greatest outcome for all involved?”

Create an intention that gives your plenty of room to give and receive. What if you intended to show up in complete service to all you meet? Or something “way different” than your usual approach. Have a conversation with a networking buddy prior to an event to be strategic and take on a possibility mindset.

Networking calls us into the fine art of balancing our ability to give AND receive. The “Waah” song is just a request for “how can I do this differently in order to succeed?”

Referral education is not taught in business school, or easily available to entrepreneurs. Can you google it? Can you ask for help? Can you give yourself a life-long learner’s permit?

Here are some TANGIBLE STEPS to up-level your game and erase the “Waah.”

  • Ask 3 people you respect to give you feedback on how you show up as a networker.
  • Write a simple networking plan that includes your top 2 business development goals, what your dream referrals look like, and a description of greatest gift you have to give. Then, do the most important part: take action on it!!
  • Answer the following questions:

Who do you know (personally or not) that has achieved the kind of networking success that you would like to achieve?
What qualities (not behaviors) does this person display that are important for you to develop within yourself?
What behaviors does this person engage in that supports their accomplishments and might be useful for you to adopt?
What could you do to grow and incorporate these qualities and behaviors into your daily life?
What three things would you immediately do or change in your life if you were representing the qualities and behaviors of the person you admire?

Now, THAT is a huge dose of self-inquiry! You are moving forward! Giving and receiving referrals is one of the best games in town.

Jenifer Novak Landers Certified Professional Coach, uLink Assistant Group Leader, uLink Event Coordinator, Past President BNI Folsom Chapter, Leadership Committee eWomen Network, Educational Coordinator BNI, Assistant Organizer Sacramento Speakers Network.